Should Manny Pacquiao stay at Welterweight?

boxingBy Anthony Coleman - Photo by Sumio Yamada - Well I’ve got to say it: whenever I say that Manny can’t do something, he continues to prove me wrong. In 2003 I thought that he wasn’t ready to defeat a fighter of Marco Antonio Barrera’s talent and skill, and he proceeded to give him one of the most one sided beatings in boxing history. Less than three years ago, before the rematch with Erik Morales, I thought that he couldn’t improve his boxing skills or retain enough of his power to stop the great Mexican fighter. He proved me wrong by adding a great right hook and uppercut to his awesome straight left hand and it helped him stop the iron jawed Morales in ten (and he won the rubber match in three rounds). This year, I thought that he couldn’t move up to Lightweight and dominate a crude, yet extremely strong David Diaz. Well he was able to beat down Diaz and then take him out in the ninth. Saturday night I gave him no chance whatsoever of stopping Oscar De La Hoya and if he won I didn’t think he’d look dominant. In fact I picked De La Hoya, who was extremely competitive with Floyd Mayweather last year, to stop the much smaller Manny Pacquiao. But instead, Manny put together another dominant one-sided victory in winning every round, with the seventh and eight rounds being 10-8s, and forced De La Hoya to quit on his stool. Well I probably should not doubt the might of the Pac-Man. He is really that damn good. But now the main question should be asked: should Manny stay at Welterweight or move back down to Lightweight?

He has thus far proved all of the naysayers wrong. He won his first world title as a Flyweight, skipped two weight classes and won a title at 122 pounds, defeated Barrera for the linear Featherweight title, carried his power up to 130 pounds and won his rematch along with another title against Juan Manuel Marquez, and in June he turned in his finest performance in destroying Diaz for the WBC crown. And after tonight, I think it might be time for fans to give him a chance to prove his case at 147 without decrying his decision if he chooses to stay in the division. But it is still worth considering what probably is going to happen if he were to stay. Personally, I can see him having some success, but not a lot of it.

Right now I would favor him over a raw titlist like Andre Berto. Berto has great handspeed and punching power, but he is still rather smallish and has holes in his defense. If Manny can box from the outside and land those great combinations I wouldn’t be shocked to see him win or even take out Berto. I’d pick him over Zab Judah as well, because no matter how fast or powerful his punch is he still has the same technical deficiencies and poor in ring judgment. But what about fights with Miguel Cotto or Antonio Margarito? Personally I think these fights are too imposing for him. In my opinion, both men are just too big, too relentless, and too powerful for Manny to defeat.

Considering if he can retain much of his power, I’d give Manny a puncher’s chance against Cotto. But in the end I think that Cotto would stop him by the ninth round. As for Margarito, if Manny can’t pot shot for twelve rounds then he is going to be run over like a locomotive.

At Welterweight, Margarito is seemingly impossible to hurt. In three fights Cintron and Cotto weren’t able to hurt Margarito, even after they hit him with their best punches. Margarito simply smiled and just kept on coming and finally was able to break their will and stop both men. As great as Manny is, and I think that he is right on the cusp of being considered one of the greatest fighters of all time, I would give Margarito a 90 percent chance of dominating and stopping the Pac-Man within 6 or 7 rounds. But again I’m just using my vast powers of observation, but those abilities have shockingly proven to be wrong from time to time. Because of what he has accomplished in his career, then I’d give him a chance to win any of these fights until he is defeated. However, I’m much more interested in seeing Manny go back down to Lightweight and becoming the first fighter since the immortal Pernell Whitaker to unify the entire division.

In a perfect boxing world, the allure of Nate Campbell holding three out of four of the major belts would be a huge attraction to Pacquiao and force an official unification of the division. And if he were to win that fight (and I’m using “if” because I wouldn’t be shocked if Campbell would win that fight), and JMM would win against Juan Diaz we’ll see the biggest Lightweight title fight in history: the Linear Champion vs the holder of all the major belts and the third chapter in their rivalry. If he were to win those fights, and then defeat Ricky Hatton at 140 (a fight that has been talked about for a while now), then I think that he should be considered one of the top twenty greatest fighters in boxing history; if not higher. Whether he stays at 147 or moves back down in weight each fight from now on is all about cementing his legacy. From here on out it is no longer about if he is the best fighter in this sport (because the answer is obviously yes), but should he be allowed entrance into Boxing’s Mount Olympus.

Article posted on 09.12.2008

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